Wednesday, August 02, 2006

We Don't Need Your Stinkin' Book

Okay, they didn't say it like that. But when a library patron offered to purchase a copy of Melanie Phillips' Londonistan (radical Islam in Britain) for the Brooklyn Public Library in New York, he received a curiously cold response:

Thank you for your question. Normally, the library doesn't add a nonfiction title to the collection (and especially one that is potentially incendiary) unless a review from a trusted source (professional journals) can be found. Unfortunately, we have not found such a review for Londonistan. Therefore, at this time, the library will not be adding Londonistan to the collection.

So says Wayne Roylance, Adult Selection Coordinator for the library.

Oh really, Wayne? If Michael Moore's new book or Al Franken's new screed has not been reviewed in a "professional journal," you would not accept it?

And what's with "potentially incendiary?" Is that in the American Library Association's position on censorship? Please give space to a variety of viewpoints, unless one is potentially incendiary, in which case, forget it.

Can we assume that donations of potentially incendiary books by Noam Chomsky, Ward Churchill, or any of a dozen left-wing authors who specialize in blaming Israel for the world's problems will be rejected, especially if there are no reviews in professional journals?

I wonder if this will be the least bit controversial in ALA circles. Whatever happens, I am consistently floored by the attitude of so many from the "anti-censorship" crowd.


At 4:41 PM, Blogger mdoneil said...

I took all new books that were offered. (New not already read, new from a vendor of publisher new) and added them. Leftie, centrist, Right. I added them all (all three of them in 2 years).

If they don't circ I can review the circ stats and make a decision to weed to make room for others, but I never say no to something someone wants to donate just because one of the professional (hardly) journals didn't review it.

What a load of crap.

At 7:51 AM, Blogger Yachira said...

And note this from Powerline:

Dr. Robert Brodsky writes:

You may recall that several days ago I wrote to inform you that, after reading the post describing the Brooklyn Public Library's excuse for not having Melanie Phillips's Londonistan on its shelves, I was able to reserve the single copy that had been ordered on 07/31/06.

I assume that this copy was ordered in response to the reporting of a library patron's complaint that was reported by Roger Kimball at Armavirumque and by Power Line. The book was delivered to my neighborhood branch yesterday. This establishes an all time speed record for a new item, going from ordered, to in process, to delivered, in under a week. Usually, as in the case of "The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus" CD, items are "in process" for over a month.

The really interesting thing is that when I went to pick up the book, coincidentally with Bill James's New Historical Baseball Abstract, my friend the librarian approached me and with apparent concern asked: "Bob, what happened with the book Arlyne ordered?" After a few puzzling moments I realized that I had reserved the Phillips book on my wife's library card.

Apparently, the BPL bigshots assumed that the first reserve on the book must have been by the same person that made the complaint that Kimball and you guys passed along. They then followed the reserve to the branch where it was reserved to, and made inquiries with the librarian on site into the identity of the patron who reserved it.

So what we have here are the purported defenders of free speech and privacy delving into the records of a library patron to dig up information. Not concerning national security, but concerning the embarassment of the p.c. cockroaches that do their dirty work in the dark.

I do like the folks I deal with at the library and they share my concerns that the BPL is on a negative trajectory, from a once great library system to a politically correct propaganda organization.

Sounds a lot like the NY Times.

Dr Bob Brodsky
Brooklyn NY

At 11:52 AM, Blogger Paul Pennyfeather said...

Thank you, yachira, for passing that update along. This is a fascinating, and all too telling story about the dark side of "free speech and tolerance."

I'm again reminded of a classmate of mine in library grad school, who worked at the main, downtown branch of our city library. She was in charge of evaluating donations. A very sweet girl (I'm middle-aged, so I can call her a girl), she constantly spoke up in class affirming her committment to fighting all types of censorship. And like many young librarians, almost anything counted as censorship.

During a conversation one day, she happened to mention that whenever she received a donation of a conservative book, she always tossed it directly into the garbage bin, regardless of the condition, or if the library had a copy.

I gently asked if this did not run contrary to her ethics (and that of the ALA). She shrugged and said "we can't take every book. It's up to people like us to decide which are the best books."

I'm sure the librarian who initially declined Londonistan also considers himself to be a champion of free access, standing firm against the cretinous censors.


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